Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Trivia 13

Some words manage to take root as loanwords in languages across the world. Probably the most famous example is okay, which is also interesting because of its debatable etymology. The four major claims are:

1. Initialism for a deliberate misspelling of "all correct" as "oll korrect." In the mid-19th century there was a fad for using abbreviations with obvious misspellings, like OW for "oll wright."
2. Abbreviation of Old Kinderhook, a nickname for Martin van Buren after his hometown.
3. The Choctaw word okeh, meaning "it is so and not otherwise." The spelling okeh was common in English until the 1960s or so. This etymology was popularized around 1885 and carried some weight until modern etymologists offered opposing theories.
4. A word or phrase from an African language like the Wolof or Bantu waw-kay or the Mande o ke. This possibility has been largely debunked.

Whatever its true origin, okay has been adopted all over the world, in languages including Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and German.

Your trivia question today is about a word which appears in many languages. There is a fruit which has the same name in Armenian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Latin, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Swedish, and Turkish, but a very different name in English. What is it?

(Additional details: In the Roman alphabet, the name of this fruit is written identically in the languages listed. It is written identically but with diacritics or accents in Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Macedonian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.)